New Texas Correspondent Lender Hunter Helms has experience both in the field and on the business side of agriculture.
Ask any farmer or rancher what’s missing from big bank lenders, and they’ll tell you banks lack an understanding of the ins and outs of agriculture and a knowledge of the industry’s unique challenges. AgAmerica Lending was built on the premise of comprehending the agriculture industry, and new Correspondent Lender Hunter Helms walks that walk every day in his role as a farmer, rancher, and now Texas lender.
Hunter’s Roots in Agriculture and Business
Hunter comes from a long line of farmers and ranchers in the small town of Rotan, Texas. “Growing up in Rotan, my life has always centered on agriculture. I’m a fifth-generation farmer/rancher, and since the age of 12 I’ve never missed an opportunity to work with my dad,” he shares. With family agribusinesses in both cotton and cattle, Hunter’s knowledge of agriculture and Texas land and cattle is broad. “I’ve always taken pride in my responsibilities on the farm and working with cattle. Both farming and ranching are very rewarding in their own ways and run deep on both sides of my family,” he says.
Hunter went to college at Texas Tech University, studying Agriculture and Applied Economics. “Majoring in Agriculture and Applied Economics was an easy choice having grown up in the agri-business world. I knew the production side of farming and ranching and already had a basic understanding of the business. However, earning a degree in these fields gave me greater exposure to the business side of agriculture,” Hunter says.
If his family’s farm and ranch fostered his love of agriculture, his college studies gave him an appreciation and insight into the agriculture industry, which he utilizes as a Texas lender. “My degree has not only helped me manage my day-to-day business, but it’s also helped me develop and cultivate a long-term, bigger picture plan. Each farmer and rancher’s operations and situations are unique, and Texas Tech helped develop my knowledge of this diverse industry.”
Keys to Success From a Texas Lender
When it comes to agriculture and land financing in Texas, Hunter talks the talk and walks the walk. He’s amassed a wealth of information—about both agriculture and working with people—which he puts to good use as a Texas lender. The first is a rule that applies in every type of business or endeavor. “In order to be a successful lender, you first have to develop trusting relationships,” Hunter explains. “I believe my experiences in production agriculture not only help me communicate on a more personal level, but to earn a client’s trust and, in turn, their business.”
Through his experiences with organizations like Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Ducks Unlimited, and the Coastal Conservation Society of Texas, he’s also learned to build his group of connections and associates as a Texas land lender. “I believe networking and developing relationships are at the core of my success, now more than ever. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people from all over and made friendships that will last forever. These groups taught me the importance of business networking and working together toward a greater cause.”
Lastly, he recognizes that a “greater cause” isn’t always something that’s on a grand scale. Sometimes, it’s something much closer to home. “Being involved in your community, especially a small, rural community, is one of the most important things you can do,” Hunter says, adding, “since moving back home after college in 2010, I’ve been witness to my community’s struggles. I strive to offer up sound advice, along with a helping hand, and know this can really go a long way.”
Other times, the “greater cause” is something as simple as family. “Having a strong work ethic and learning to prioritize are two absolute musts. I’ve also gotten better at delegating the work on my farm and ranch so that I can dedicate more time to my lending clients. I also love taking my wife and son with me to feed the cows or ride on the tractor. Family time is very important to me.”
Wildfires in Texas
Hunter’s perception of the deep connections between agriculture, small communities, and family is highlighted by the recent wildfires in the Texas panhandle that destroyed pastures, killed livestock, and turned many farming families’ lives upside down. “The wildfires in West Texas have taken lives and thousands of acres. Ranchers have lost cattle, pasture, and fences that will all need to be replaced,” Hunter shared.
He believes it’s a prime time for AgAmerica to step up as a resource for those affected. “Disaster relief funds just won’t be enough. Many ranchers will be looking for additional funding to help them recover and rebuild their operations. AgAmerica’s custom approach to lending could be very beneficial in this time of need,” he assured.
At AgAmerica we are here to help the nation’s farmers and ranchers in both good times and bad, whether building up or rebuilding. With our full spectrum of lending products, we customize loan packages tailored to individual operational needs. Another way we strive to help the agricultural community is by conducting and publishing relevant research and commentary; check out our recent article on risk management in agriculture.